Designing a Brand Strategy – What You Need to Know
Whether you’re looking to create a new visual identity, refresh an existing brand, or go back to the drawing board for a complete overhaul, there can be a lot to consider when designing a brand strategy to ensure a new brand hits the mark.
We’re often asked what our biggest considerations are when beginning a brand project, so we’ve put together some of our top tips for brand strategy. We’d love to hear your thoughts…
The Purpose of a Brand
In the first instance, it’s important to consider the driving forces behind your branding or rebranding project.
Updating your brand can mark a new chapter in your business, demonstrating to your customers that you’re growing or evolving. The most important thing to remember is that your brand reflects where your business is now and your aspirations for where you’re going to be in the future. Your brand project should be designed to encapsulate these aspirations.
Revolution or Evolution?
Many businesses start from scratch when rebranding, which, to us, demonstrates a wholesale shift in your business offer.
Sometimes this is appropriate, but don’t forget brands like Shell, Apple and VW. These firms have all refined their brand to move with the times, but they remain faithful to their established brand identity.
This approach allows businesses to draw upon their heritage and longevity, showing customers that they offer stability and trustworthiness.
What Your Brand Represents
Once you’ve decided that a brand project is right for your business, you’ll need to carefully consider your offer. What is it exactly that you do? Don’t just think about the day-to-day processes or high-level offer; what do people actually gain from being your customer? What is the end result of your product or service?
People often think being pigeonholed is a bad thing, but we believe that the opposite is true. Offering something that no-one else can is a huge selling point, and means that you can price accordingly — as an expert in your field. Specialisms can also boost your website’s SEO. When a person needs your specific products and services, your name should be at the top of the search results.
Embrace Your Niche
Your Unique Personality
Your brand should express who you are and what you stand for, which can be leveraged to attract your target audience.
While some brand personalities are more obvious than others (think Apple) no two businesses are the same, and this should be reflected when designing a Brand Strategy. From the people that make up your business, your specialisms, your passions and even your fears, there’s lots to draw upon to create a unique personality for your brand.
Key Brand Components: Visual
The visual tone of your brand says everything about you before any website or writing can.
From your logo design to the typeface and photographic style you use, everything plays a part in setting the scene and encouraging a potential buyer or client to engage with you. It can be useful to see how your brand compares visually with your competitors visually to make sure you fit in while also making an impression.
Key Brand Components: Written
Tone of Voice
Written and spoken words are one of the most straightforward ways of getting your company’s message across and should never be overlooked in your brand project.
How does your brand sound? Friendly? Authoritative? Informative? How do you think your customers would like to be spoken to? Try a few different options and see what feels right, and what resonates with your target audience.
Taking a look at the competition (both like-for-like and aspirational competition) will give you a good sense of where your overall market is. In-depth competitor analysis will give you the background knowledge to position your brand at the right level. You can also ensure that your brand stands out within your market. This will make you more visible and also demonstrate that you see things in a unique way, offering something that no-one else can!
We would never recommend that you copy your competition — with the only possible exception being Aldi, who seem to hilariously pastiche more expensive products while still achieving good publicity. It’s worth noting, however, that in this instance, Aldi do differentiate themselves as a value retailer.
One area that people sometimes get wrong is judging their place within the market. If your customers are attracted to value for money, your brand may reflect this through simple yet effective visuals. Equally, a high-end offer might consider a consistent application of professional, high-quality design and imagery.
Typical Customer Profiles
Once you’ve refined your positioning, you can test multiple brand journeys by thinking about who you’re aiming to attract. Creating customer profiles is a great way to make sure your brand message aligns with your target audience. By putting yourself in their shoes, you can imagine how they might interact with your brand and get an insight into how they may perceive your brand.
Launching Your New Brand
Having considered all your touchpoints, don’t waste the opportunity for publicity—launch your new brand!
Launching your brand online with a new digital experience, video or even launch event can help people to buy into your new image. You might get some positive press, and your customers have an excuse to touch base with you on the back of a successful launch.
The Importance of a Consistent Brand
Brand guidelines inform how your brand should be used both now and in the future to ensure consistency and present a confident public image.
Strong brand design offers some flexibility in order to be able to move with the times while remaining recognisable as uniquely your business. If someone has to guess or bend the rules to make your brand work, the future probably wasn’t well considered in the first place.